It is an open secret that the film industry is in a shambles in the state due to poor turnout at theatres, what with increasing popularity of television serials, which keep people glued to the TV set at home. As a result cinema halls in the state are shutting down one after another.

According to sources, the number of singlescreen theatres in the state has come down to around 400 against 750 theatres, a few years ago. In Kolkata, around 30 single-screen cinema halls are operational. Tollywood, the Kolkata film industry, is running at an annual loss of Rs.100 crore because of poor performance at the box office.

The Eastern India Motion Pictures Association (EIMPA) has finally come up with a solution to deal with the crisis. The Association has written to the state government requesting permission to convert the singlescreen theatres into semimultiplexes.

“The aim is to convert the single-screen theatres into two-screen theatres to increase the number of visitors. Two different movies running under a same roof will attract more people as half of the seats in the singlescreen theatres remain mostly unoccupied these days. It will also increase the revenue of the hall owners and in turn be profitable for the industry as a whole,” said Mr Krishna Daga, vice-president of EIMPA.

He further said the semi-multiplexes would cater to the middle and lower middle class audience that normally prefer the single-screen theatres. “Ticket prices will be kept low as the goal is to attract more footfalls. We also have plans to come up with a food court and provide other comforts enjoyed by the people who spend big bucks in multiplexes.

The Association has also requested the government to grant them tax subsidy and an increase in the subsidy of tickets while giving permission for semi-multiplexes. The hall owners have welcomed the step, but have also expressed apprehensions about the success of the semi-multiplex concept.

“Apart from increasing the amenities, the film makers should come up with new story ideas to woo film lovers," said Mr Amar Bahadur Singh, the manager of Paradise Theatre in central Kolkata, who has been in the business for the last four decades.